Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Servant Leadership: Developing The Right Kind Of Leader And Company

Surveys are showing that people are losing trust in leadership in all areas of our society. This lack of trust is creating an increasing gap between leadership and the people they are leading making it harder for leadership and the employees to come together and achieve the results needed to sustain a competitive advantage for the business. Here are some recent survey results that show how bad this gap between leadership and the workforce has become:
Ø 65% of workers would choose a better boss over a raise ( 2012)
Ø  Only 35% of people are happy in their job ( 2012)
Ø  The majority of people said they trust a stranger more than their boss (Harvard Business Review 2009)
Ø  Fewer than 40% of employees are motivated by their supervisor to give their best (DDI 2012)
The definition of INSANITY is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results! Many leaders are very frustrated in their roles because they are not finding the joy and happiness they thought having a title and being able to tell people what to do would bring. Many thought a title would make it easy to lead people because their people would just do whatever they were told. What a surprise when these leaders found that it’s not really about titles but about influence which is earned over time by our actions and relationships with those we lead.
Many companies do not have the right training process in place that can help leaders become the kind of leader that energizes, motivates, mentors, and helps their people discover and reach their potential. Most training programs seem to be just about giving out some information instead of bringing about real change in their leaders. Training and teaching are one of the most important ingredients for a business to find real success. If leaders aren’t growing, it isn’t likely their people are either.
           What Leaders Need To Understand To Become An Effective Servant Leader
 We get what we allow to happen as leaders. We must learn to be honest with ourselves, to look in the mirror first before we start looking for others to blame. Self-awareness is the strength of a servant leader. It helps them see how their imperfect moments and actions (which we all have) impact their people. It helps them be honest with themselves as to who they are and what do they need to do differently to grow their people.
If we want our people to change we must model the behavior we want to see in our people. We must teach and coach them not just tell them what to do and then go back to our offices and hope they change. Hope is not a strategy!    
Leaders must transfer ownership for the work and results to those who do the work and insure those closest to the action are involved in decision making. This is so they not only feel responsible, but also be responsible for the results. This is hard for many leaders because they have been taught that they must be the smartest person in the room and come up with all the answers. Then we wonder why leaders always feel overwhelmed and left with no time to get to the things that are really important for growing their people and business.
In a servant leadership environment LEADERS cannot have their people waiting on them to tell them what to do. Help your people use their personalities, brains, passion and abilities. As their leader, see their diversity of skills, personalities, and talents as a major strength to be developed and nurtured.  If you don’t see or understand their differences, you will end up “leading generically” which means you put everyone in the same box. Diversity requires us as leaders to use different disciplines and motivations based on the needs of our people. It requires that leaders build relationships with their people so they get to know who their people really are.
Simply put in the business world servant leadership helps companies and leaders move away from the “boss” model which is about self and making people do things, to the “servant” model of helping people accomplish things.  It’s about seeing people’s potential. Servant leaders make a difference in the lives of those who walk through the door each day to produce products and serve customers. Servant leaders help their people feel a part of something bigger than themselves and accomplish more than they ever thought possible. Real servant leadership builds an environment of trust and respect between leadership and their people. Servant leaders recognize that their workforce comes to work with their dreams, skills, goals, and potential for achieving something great and the role of leadership is to help them reach and discover their potential and help their people grow.
Servant Leaders And Their Five Keys for Energizing Their People And Business Results

1. Honesty is at the heart of servant leadership. Honesty must first start with the leader. They must set the example. Are you honest with yourself as to how you are leading and how you see and treat people?  Do you really know how your people view you?  Are you making a difference in people’s lives as a leader? Do they trust you? Are they following you as their leader? If not, why not? Do you truly have a desire to serve and care for your people? The ultimate question they ask themselves, “are my people growing in their job and as people.”
2. Commitment to each other, the business your customers, and the community. In a world that seems to become more selfish by the day, commitment seems to be lost or short lived in many areas of our life. In places where I have seen a real commitment to excellence and results, people are treated very well. In companies where commitment is lacking, leaders don’t spend time with their people, the right kind of communication doesn’t exist and leaders have a very authoritative leadership style which means my way or the highway style of leadership.
3. Teaching is the engine for great servant leadership and any successful continuous improvement process. Teaching is what changes people and cultures. Teaching is about change where training many times is just about providing some information. Leaders who teach are in the trenches with their people. They model the correct behaviors and work ethic. They spend time with their people which say, “I care about you.” Teaching says to your people I trust you to make decisions for yourself and the business. Teaching also creates future leaders capable of thinking and making decisions instead of always relying on their leader. It also helps you the leaders discover the people you can delegate things to so you have more time to spend with your people.
4. Expectations tell your people the what, who, when, where and if necessary the how so there is no guessing about what work, actions, and measurements are in place and are acceptable. Great leadership and continuous improvement are all built around people knowing what to do, how to do it and then working as a team to meet the expectations that have been established. It’s not about doing things faster, but doing them better with less waste and improving how you meet customer’s needs. Expectations require ongoing communication. The real kind that is person to person not some e-mail that gets lost in the long list of e-mails waiting on a response.
5. Accountability at the end of the day is about responsibility for the results and the success that was agreed to. Often when working with companies and leaders, I ask how people are held accountable for the results. This is when I start seeing that deer in the headlights look.  It is an area many companies of all sizes struggle with. Not because they aren’t working towards plans and goals, but because when they come up short and miss the plan, they are embarrassed because nothing really changes. Yes there might be a couple of meetings in the conference room or between departments and after the meeting a few people get chewed on, but the big question for most businesses needs to be “What changes MUST we make to insure we correct the issues, problems, and challenges that caused us to miss our plan. Too often businesses spend a lot of time on the symptoms and not the root problems. When it comes to accountability servant leaders aren’t looking for people to blame, they are looking for what areas need more teaching, coaching and help to bring about improvement.. They are trying to determine what next steps in the expectations and accountability process
Final Thoughts
For real change to take place  senior leadership must be truly committed. Everyone must realize this is a journey and will take some time, learning and teaching that never ends. Communication and feedback is a must for its success; two-way between leadership and the workforce. Honest and open. Make resolving conflict job one because there will be plenty as you implement change. Expect some skeptics in the workforce. Remember, they have seen your imperfect moments. You will have to prove to them you are changing. Keep working to remove the barriers that keep people and the company from reaching their goals. If you and your people can capture the vision for servant leadership, you will notice a change in how people speak and listen to each other. You will see more patience and the setting of expectations and accountability by everyone for the results.  Also when you lay your head on your pillow at night to go to sleep; you will start to feel less stress and frustration knowing you and your company are helping people discover and reach their potential. This will give you the true joy and happiness all of us desire; the kind that is achieved by making a difference in the lives we have been called to lead and impact. This is the kind of joy and happiness money, job titles, power and fame can never buy. Try it you will like it and so will your people!










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